Ailie Blunnie

Songwriter :: Singer :: Musician

Prayers and Feminine Wiles

Posted by on Jul 13, 2017

Prayers and Feminine Wiles

Hi, I confess, I might have got a bit carried away being a serious-musician in the last few blogs – with my forthcoming album of serious-musician music. I want to go back to the old-style rambly ones for a minute – is that alright? I confess to almighty god. [And to you, my brothers and sisters] How are things? How’s the summer going? Any craic? I hope you’re well. That opening confessional reminds me of something: I went through a phase of saying an enormous number of prayers before bed as a child. Did anyone else? I can remember one night in particular when I was.. it must’ve been 7 or 8 – around Communion age – counting all the way up to 150 Hail Marys. I was praying for my parents not to die. Because I thought that the more prayers I said, the more God would listen. I was really proud of myself for being able to stay awake. And you know something, they didn’t die either.. so if that’s not rock-solid scientific gospel evidence.. :-) There was a lovely comfort in it though, I have to say.. repeating the same prayer over and over. I was a mega-worrier as a child. Like lots of children. The existential trauma of it all. I’m still a bit of a worrier actually, especially when I’m hungover. Last Sunday for example, I pushed the boat out the night before – took a shine to the whiskey, ginger and lime promotion that was on – and by the end of the Sunday evening, I had my head buried in my hands and was doubled over in utter hopelessness. (My sister will confirm it). And it struck me.. it’s only with the grace of God, and hangover-busting homeostasis, that I don’t wake up like that every day of my life. The brain is such a wonderfully precious thing. As you know. It mystifies me to think of it encased in our dark skulls, never seeing the light of day, and yet constructing every colour, sound, taste, smell and touch of your reality. And it amazes me also to think of how phenomenally different people’s realities are from each other’s. And how we get on with each other at all? It makes me think about the level of care and respect it deserves too. “Alcohol, fun though it be, is nevertheless a depressant, Ailie”. That’s what I’ll be saying...

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Beat of Your Heart, single release

Posted by on May 1, 2017

Hello! Happy May Day! How are ya? Just a quick blog about the second single release last week. Here it is: I didn’t choose that thumbnail photo – that was YouTube’s decision. It looks like I’m about to burst into a bit of break-dancing, doesn’t it! I’m very happy with this song. I was anxious about releasing it because it’s quite different from my EP songs. But it felt like the right way forward and I’m delighted with the reaction. Thanks a million for your messages and comments! I was thrilled too that it was included in Nialler9’s Irish Songs of the Week in the Irish Times. You don’t think of those things when you’re writing a song, but it really is very validating when there’s a positive outside response. So thank you. It took quite a while to get the final version of this together: we started with the piano and voices, then added some guitar and percussion, and then cello, trombone and double bass. I had in my mind that the song should strike a balance between destabilising, and soothing, so that by the third verse (2:40), you’d feel a bit like you were firing things around the kitchen, but in a cathartic rather than a frustrated sort of way!* Did it work? ..or am I just talking singer-songwriter rubbish? In terms of the words, the song is about letting someone go who isn’t doing you any good in your life, and it feeling like you’re abandoning them (rather than the other way round – or that you might be abandoning yourself by not doing it). I remember describing the feeling to someone (of letting that person go) as like clutching a baby really close and then stretching out your arms and dropping them into a river. And I can’t remember their exact response, but it was something like “but he’s a grown man..”, which was very true ..but it wouldn’t have mattered what he was – objectivity had left the building by then! It’s very easy to fall into bad patterns with relationships, isn’t it.. especially in your 20s, I think. I sometimes think you shouldn’t be allowed near another person until you both pass a rigorous battery of healthy-boundaries tests first! I suppose you have to learn to do that for yourself along the way.** Anyway, God, I got very serious there. Any craic..? I really hope you like the song. You can just...

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Background to ‘Beat of Your Heart’, the next single

Posted by on Mar 27, 2017

Background to ‘Beat of Your Heart’, the next single

Hello, How are things? Gorgeous bit of sun these last few days. I hope you’re getting to enjoy some of it. I’m in the process of getting the second single, ‘Beat of Your Heart’, ready for release. We’re working on the video at the moment, and aiming to release it in early April. It’s upbeat, and has a bit of an electronic and grungy edge to it – a slightly new departure. I started writing it on the way home from work one day last year, just as I was beginning to feel the early phase of a migraine coming on. (I’m prone to migraines. Info below if it helps you*) While not positive experiences, some of the things that happen during that early phase – the aura or ‘warning’ phase – can be kind of funny! That day, I had just finished teaching an English class, and somewhere along the way home, one of the pronunciation exercises we had been doing popped back into my head. Not a problem under most circumstances.. The problem was that it replayed itself at the same volume and enthusiasm-level as the real-life version. My auditory world spontaneously filled up with a chorus of just-landed-in-the-country Brazilian and Pakistani voices, diligently chanting elementary English phrases, while I walked like an otherwise normal-looking person past the local Bingo Hall in Cabra (“WHERE are you FROM, WHAT’S your NAME, how OLD are you..?”). It was like chunks of time had been copied and pasted on top of each other and put on a loop. Absolutely bonkers. So, in this new song, I’ve tried to channel a bit of the sense of disorientation you feel at those times, but in a tightly-structured way so that it might also be soothing for people for if their own life feels a bit out of control. I’m hoping it won’t actually give people a headache.. :-) Aside from that, I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about what to do after the album. I’m conscious of feeling a bit directionless.. like the way you hear of people planning a wedding or something, and then coming down like a tonne of bricks afterwards. So I’m trying to get a few things lined up. College, for one, but in terms of music, maybe getting onto the support circuit and doing some opening slots for more established acts.. or writing music for different types of projects and/or collaborating with different...

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‘West to the Evening Sun’ single // process (music)

Posted by on Feb 11, 2017

Hello! How are ya? It’s been a big week here with the release of ‘West to the Evening Sun’, the first single from my forthcoming album. Here it is: It’s about.. do you know when you’re a bit fed up and you just want to get in the car and drive away.. forever? I was feeling like that at the time. I wrote some of it in Dublin, and some of it in Sligo. It’s a bit different than previous releases for me, because it’s the first time I’ve had producers on board (Daragh Dukes, Eoin Coughlan). I’m very touched at the response it’s getting: some nice media attention and airplay, and my mammy really likes it.. :-) I never really understood the role of producers; I just thought they were people Michael Jackson had to tell him he was doing grand and keep singing away there.. but I can confidently say, they do more than that! At least in my experience. We started by listening to the bare song (just piano and vocals) and then I told them a bit about the emotional stuff behind it, and discussed a few reference tracks and ideas to give them a clearer picture of the sort of feel I wanted (e.g. folk, Irish, natural, chant-like, ancient, modern, a bit magical, ambient, expansive). After that, myself and Eoin recorded a basic track with piano, vocals, and bodhrán, and then we honed in on the individual instruments and sounds, and started experimenting and metaphorically throwing muck at the wall. We recorded everything a load of different ways – vocals were sung, spoken, whispered.. guitars were strummed, scuffed, e-bowed.. we were hitting ourselves all over for percussion (we must have looked insane) – all to try and get a good, tangible feel for how exactly the palette of sounds I had in my head for the song, was going to be created. The best way I can describe the atmosphere in that studio is like a great big steam engine, fueled by imagination, energy, a lot of suggestions, a load of opinions, mutual respect, a touch of magic, and a fair bit of feeling uncomfortable. It’s actually not that pleasant sometimes – even though it probably sounds kind of rock ‘n roll and all that’s missing is the cocaine.. After that then, the song was gradually crafted into the version you hear. Daragh, the producer/engineer, is brilliant. I’ll link his website below...

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New year, and some new ways to stay sane (*maybe)

Posted by on Jan 6, 2017

New year, and some new ways to stay sane (*maybe)

Happy New Year! Well? Tell me everything. Did you have a nice Christmas? I’m just back in Dublin after a break at home in Carrick. It’s freeeezin’ here! The heat is on full throttle and I’m firing cups of tea into myself. January is D-month for me, so I’m back in the office (sittingroom) getting ‘West to the Evening Sun’ (the title track and first single from the album) ready for release. Some of the work is practical, like finishing the video, and some of it is more.. mental-health-related. Do you know the episode of Father Ted where Sr Assumpta wakes them up in the middle of the night for their Lenten torture? Well, I’ve been waking up over the past few weeks feeling not unlike that – the t-shirt I’m wearing, too short to pull down over the trousers that I forgot to put on before leaving the house for the event in the middle of the big place with the big crowd that I CAN’T GET AWAY FROM. You know the one! I’m a bit nervous! I used to get really nervous. I remember praying fervently the night before my first Leaving Cert exam, to die peacefully in my sleep. I had a stomach full of dread, and I knew that, short of being run over by a benevolent bus in the morning, this was my last hope. I prayed like mad.. Hail Marys.. Our Fathers.. The Creed.. It didn’t work, but what it did help me see, was that I could afford to trust myself to have my own back a bit more: the morning was fine.. the exams were fine.. it was all fine. It was frightening to me though, the ease and speed with which you could find yourself in deep distress. Which made me prick my ears up at this: I came across a list of Apps that seem to be showing promise in helping people identify and treat factors linked to anxiety, depression, and generalised feelings of not-quite-rightness. The idea is that they will help you alert yourself to things such as social isolation, problems with sleeping, too little activity, obsessive thinking, etc… with a view to lowering the risk of you heading down that slippery-slopery slope. It struck me that these might be particularly good for people in their teens/early 20s. See below for the link* The way I try to deal...

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December // album update

Posted by on Dec 10, 2016

December // album update

Hello! So, Christmas again! How are ya getting on? Have you the shopping done? I’ve nothing done yet. The people-pleaser in me loves saying that, knowing that other people might feel better about themselves by comparison. And then the rebel in me is like “flip that for a game of soldiers, I don’t care what anyone thinks”.. which isn’t true, of course, but, given the global loony-mayhem at the moment, you’d nearly be forgiven, wouldn’t you? I was reading recently that our last shared ancestors (human/ape) might have come from around the Rift Valley in East Africa (I may be a bit late to the anthropological party on this one – it was news to me!). Anyway, I saw a beautiful picture of the area as taken from the space station, and I have to say.. it kind of helped put the Trump stuff in perspective for me a bit. It made me start thinking about how we must have been back then.. hanging out in the trees.. swinging away.. swinging away.. and then the transition to walking upright.. swing.. swing.. double-tucked-back-somersault and *land* There’s just something lovely about it. And another thing I’ve taken solace in, and you might too.. is the fact that the universe is just so incredibly big. 13.8 billion years and 1 or 2 hundred billion galaxies of big. It’s a lot. Makes my problems seem very small. Anyway, moving a bit closer to home – the album is nearly there! I’ll fill you in on where I am: Recording started around this time last year, and by February, I had.. I suppose.. about half of it done. At that point, I took a step back for perspective – I headed to the Rift Valley of my mind – and I realised I’d need to pull my socks up a bit if I was going to be happy with the final album. I felt like I wasn’t giving a true account of myself.. or something. Too much people-pleasing, too little rebel, maybe.. Probably, actually! So, I changed tack around May, got some of the newer songs together, met up with a fantastic producer, and the rest, as they say, is not history yet, but I’m delighted to be releasing the first single from it – ‘West to the Evening Sun’ – next month! (all going well) The album will follow shortly after that, and...

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